They are in Gaza more than 100 days. Bring them home, NOW. Tel-Aviv. January, 13, 2024. Photos by Abed L. Azab

The October 7th 2023 attack on Israel by the terror organization of Hamas is far from fully understood. It will take years or even generations for that matter. Moreover, the pain that this attack and the war that Israel leashed in reaction, this pain will never heal.

In my humble opinion, the most two painful results of this situation are the Israeli hostages in Gaza and the unthinkable number of Gazans killed by the Israeli army: more than 24200 on January 18th 2024, today. Both must end, NOW.

I participated in the great gathering in Tel Aviv last Saturday to mark 100 days of captivity of 130 Israeli hostages that are still in Gaza. Like many thousands of people, I heard the desperate calls of the hostages families. Painful. I have never thought that they will be in Gaza for this seemingly endless time. And I want to make it clear right here: all the blame for every second that they are still there is only on the government of Israel. Free them now, no matter what the price is. All Israeli hostages in Gaza for all Palestinian prisoners in Israel and permanent ceasefire are very justified terms to end this war. And one more clarification: if the Israeli army succeeds to bring their dead bodies by force, this will be a colossal failure. Bring them home, NOW.

Unfortunately, the present government in Israel with the Smotrich-Ben-Gvir alliance is more than interested in endless continuation of this war. This situation is completely on their favor. Emergency situation and rules that cancel democracy, massive aggression towards the Palestinians in the West Bank, and transferring billions of dollars to Jewish settlers. The Israeli public opinion is more than busy with the ongoing war, and these fascists are celebrating. Some of them even danced after the killing of Edna Bluestein in a terror attack in Ra’anana few days ago.

It will be a major catastrophe if all or even some Israeli hostages will be killed by Hamas, by the Israeli army, or just because of culpable neglect. And make no mistake: the terror organization of Hamas knows no mercy for any hostage, including Arab/Muslim ones, and the families of those are deeply worried.

The Israeli public opinion is almost ready for an All-for-All deal despite some clear objections. Obviously, hostages families are more than supporting this exchange. But also Former Prime Minister and Israeli army chief commander Ehud Barak supports this, as well as many important analysts and public opinion influencers that do so.

Netanyahu can and must end his (too) long rule of Israel with this positive, humane accord: All-for-All. He can rely on many moral and practical consideration. Immediate prisoners release or “Redemption of Captives” (Pidyon Shvuyim) is a basic and important concept in Jewish traditions, and with this he can argue with his religious partners. On the practical historical level, most Israeli governments released Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages or for much less, when this was needed. Netanyahu can remember and remind the All-for-All opposers of the Gild Shalit deal: an (one) Israeli hostage (soldier) for the release of 1027 Palestinian prisoners in Israel. And here is the very Netanyahu praising himself for that deal of Gilad Shalit freeing. And if this is not enough, here is the very Netanyahu releasing 104 Palestinian prisoners in 2013, not for Israeli hostages, but as a “gesture of goodwill” to Abu Mazen in order to resume peace negotiations between Israel and the PA.

Up to date reports estimate that the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel is around 7300-7500. The terror organization of Hamas is captivating 130 Israeli hostages. Applying the Gilad Shalit deal results a very simple numeric fact: Israel can release 133510 Palestinian prisoners. So, ALL-for-ALL deal is best for Israel. NOW.

About the Author
Dr Abed L. Azab was born and lives now with his family in A’ra, Israel. He completed his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is an educator, teacher, social activist and column writer.
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